This article was earlier published on June 12, 2013; and I have decided to republish same in response to Dele Momodu’s latest article titled “Before we repeat June 12” – http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/before-we-repeat-june-12/199952/
So how many states in Nigeria have as at today, JUNE 12, who have already declared this date a public holiday still disagree with the President’s proposal of having UNILAG renamed in honour of Moshood Kashimawo Abiola [MKO]? How many NGOs/Civil Society Groups who are today having rallies to mark this date still disagree with this same proposal?
Well, it is amazing that all the DEMOCRATS that benefited from “June 12” who have ridden on the back of that to become BIG BOYS today would disagree with the plans to rename what is arguably the most admired University in the nation after this same man that many of them abandoned in his time of trial only to return after his death to enjoy from the “fruits of his labour” – and I have noticed how they have come up with all manner of excuses to fight against this proposal like – “UNILAG is in the South-west hence it is an attempt to “localize” the significance of June 12“; and/or “an institution or edifice in Abuja or in fact “Aso Rock” should be named after MKO or a brand new one should be built for this same purpose”; and/or “June 12 [and not May 29] should be declared “Democracy Day” and a holiday to honour MKO.”
Well, it seems these excuses are prevalent just because the very idea of renaming this school didn’t originate from these folks – these voltrons of our democracy – how can marking “a date a year” be more significant than naming UNILAG after this man – with the place being “a cradle of raising the youths” – with the attendant importance of immortalizing the memory of the man? It is very apparent that What MKO did; and the relevance of that struggle in the minds of the future leaders of the nation – in such a way that this name would be indelibly hatched into the memory of the polity by it being mentioned all the time is a much better option than just only declaring a public holiday in his memory?
Rather what we have seen is that those that are old enough to know what actually happened during the struggle were practically instigating some students of UNILAG, many who were not yet born during this time epoch season to take to the streets to protest this name-change!
Well, I have noticed a second category of these people whose beef is that “MKO wasn’t a hero afterall” – they claim “June 12 should be about Nigerians and not MKO” – that “MKO was also one of the looters of Nigeria and that he possibly deserved what he got” – well, to such people – I have put the question severally – “Did you go to prison for 5 years to defend the mandate or did you lose your properties and family while at it or did your Wife die in the process or did you die in the process; even though you were offered the opportunity to leave Prison while forgoing this mandate to which you disagreed?”
For anyone to suggest that “there is a significance to June 12 while also ridiculing MKO in the process” would amount to committing a ridiculously high level of intellectual dishonesty and in fact, telling an outright lie! And here we are again with this false sense of righteousness within this polity – where those who are saints never get to make sacrifices for the greater good but seem to leave that responsibility to those they have chosen to describe as crooks – how come “it was this crook and his wife” that were killed along with their associates and supporters in defense of this mandate while “the saints continue to enjoy life today riding on the backs of what the so-called crook did?”
Then there is a third category of those who to believe in the significance of June 12 but would rather have “Hamza El-Mustapha freed” or “pardoned” – who believe “the guy has suffered enough” and who would routinely storm the courts “to celebrate their hero” every time he comes there – how do such people reconcile both positions? How do you get to be “compassionate” with the one that killed “the woman that stood by this mandate when other men ran into exile claiming to be fighting for this same mandate?”
I encourage Nigerians to be vigilant about this “trend of hypocrisy as regards June 12” – one that only tends to score cheap political points with it rather than pay attention to what it truly represents because if this is allowed to continue, very soon – this entire polity would begin to ridicule this date to the point that many would rather wish it away [as you recently noticed with Bashir Tofa and has President Olusegun Obasanjo did for the 8 years he was in office] – and a people that is not familiar with their history are practically a lost people lest we come to needlessly fight the struggle we already won all over again!
Well, it is my belief that Nigerians should use a day like this one to reminisce on how far we have come as a Nation over the course of the last 20 years – from a time when we were held under absolute bondage that we couldn’t express ourselves to this time, that we can stand up for what we believe in without being hounded for that, knowing that we can look forward to another 20 years when we would have completely regained our relevance on the international scene and when we would have together built a nation where our shared dreams for the country would have been realized.
On this day, I say “thank you” to the family of MKO for their endurance all these years despite this irreparable loss and the seeming continued assault on their family name by some and “congratulations” to all those Nigerians who have stood by this country not for selfish reasons but for the greater good – God bless Nigeria in Jesus’ name, Amen.
You can read my article on the UNILAG name-change that was done a year ago here –https://www.facebook.com/notes/favour-b-afolabi/brand-unilag-a-subset-of-nigerias-larger-history/10151791587660316]